April 1, 2016

Movie Reviews by Reel People: 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice'

By Ron and Leigh Martel, Columnists, The Friday Flyer


Let’s see if we get this right. Fan boys have asked to see our two most revered superheroes in a mano-a-mano matchup. What next? Samantha vs. Jeannie? Beatles vs. Stones? Where does it end? If Republicans are currently at each other’s throats and Democrats are infighting as well, apparently, ‘tis the season, so let’s get ready to rumble!

First things first: Ben Affleck not only fills the Batman suit, he might be the best ever to play that role. Considering his casting set off an internet backlash so strong, the studio advised him to remain off the web for his own emotional well being. Although Henry Cavill has not exactly overwhelmed Superman fans in his prior venture, he is now the imposing figure in the blue tights and red cape that fans demand; credit to both stars.

The most difficult staging of the heavy special effects blockbuster was not so much the monumental fight; it’s the basic premise. There is so much evil in this world, what possible motive might these titans have to go to war against each other, other than personal jealously? Fortunately, that wasn’t it, but the actual reason wasn’t much better.

The title is styled as a legal case: “Batman v Superman,” where the party of the first part, (Batman) is taking action for grievances against the party of the second part (Superman), the defendant. As both prefer vigilante justice over legal minutia, the philosophy of might makes right, which has served them well in the past, will prevail.

If you remember in “Man of Steel” (2013), while Superman defended the world against Zod, they wiped out several city blocks. One of those buildings caught, as collateral damage, was Wayne Industries. Bruce Wayne/Batman blames Superman, an illegal alien, for the loss. Senator Finch (Holly Hunter) proclaims, “The world has been so caught up with what he (Superman) can do that no one has asked what he should do.”

Good point, but Bruce Wayne takes it further, “He has the power to wipe out the entire human race and if we believe there is even a one percent chance that he is our enemy, we have to take it as an absolute certainty.” Huh? Wayne further clarifies, “We just have a bad history with freaks dressed like clowns.” Oh, we get that, but this is Superman!

Nobody can beat Transformers and X-Men on urban devastation. If we get them on the docket, they’ll wish Johnnie Cochran were still around. Then again, Clark Kent, a bit suspicious of Batman, says, “Civil liberties are being trampled in your city; people living in fear. He thinks he's above the law. This bat vigilante is like a one-man reign of terror.” Yikes!

Well, that’s about the best they’re going to do to set the stage. Then, director Zack Snyder (“Man of Steel”) fills the screen with special effects and a cavalcade of stars, including Amy Adams as Louis Lane, Lawrence Fishburne as Perry White, Jeremy Irons as Alfred, Patrick Wilson as the President and Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as Mr. and Mrs. Kent. Cameos include Senator Pat Leahy, Anderson Cooper, Charlie Rose, Soledad O’Brien, Nancy Grace, Dana Bash and Kent Shocknek.

We briefly see Aquaman, The Flash and the new Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Israeli actress Gal Gadot). Finally, the evil Lex Luther returns to stir up the pot. This time, it’s Jesse Eisenberg’s turn. Brilliantly annoying in “The Social Network,” here he’s just annoying. The weasel struggles to carry the role of chief instigator between the rivals.

“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is a very long two and half hours and rated PG13 for intense sequences of violence and action. It’s currently popular to label each solution a problem and attack good deeds just for the sport of it. Therefore, next up is Captain America vs. Iron Man. We really wish this trend would stop there.

The moral of the story is a fear of vigilante justice is solved with vigilante justice, right? Alfred explains, “That's how it starts; the fever, the rage, the feeling of powerlessness that turns good men cruel.” If you get past that, the action and the heroes are first rate. But, if New York City is typically the backdrop for Metropolis and Gotham is across the river, would that be Newark? If so, no wonder Batman is in such a funk.

Ron’s Rating: B- Leigh’s Rating: D+